A plan to legalize and tax marijuana throughout New York State was introduced today by Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger, who wants to make it clear she is not a pothead. “Am I supporting this legislation because I think everybody should go out and smoke marijuana or because I want to smoke marijuana? No,” she said, noting that the last time she got high was at a 1976 screening of a Cheech and Chong movie. But in reference to the endless arrests of young men for small-time possession, she said, “We’re paying taxpayer money to ruin lives, disproportionately for those from communities of color, with no real public policy goal to be found in any of it.”
The bill would allow people over the age of 21 to buy up to two ounces of marijuana, while those over 18 could legally possess and consume the drug. “It would establish an excise tax of $50 an ounce of marijuana and authorize localities to charge a sales tax on retail sales if they wish to,” said Krueger, likening it to a “liquor store model.”
“It will take the market in marijuana away from the criminal enterprises just as happened when alcohol prohibition was ended,” she added.
But don’t get too excited: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office called the bill “a non-starter,” despite his administration’s moves toward decriminalization. No less than a very pro-legalization representative of the Drug Policy Alliance agreed, “It’s unlikely that this bill is passing this year,” but following the approval of recreational pot-smoking in Washington and Colorado, and the indisputable trending of public polls, it’s not as ridiculous a proposal as it once seemed.